Posted by: mariacascio12 | March 12, 2015

The Myth of Having it All

I have been thinking a lot about the article we read where the highly successful woman informally warns all of us women to really seize what we want in life before it’s too late. I wondered how many women feel that they have traded off valuable areas of their life under the name of wanting to be successful.
I found this article that talks about a “creeping nonchoice” that women face. The article particularly addresses children and how women are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to deciding to have kids.
The author discusses the results of his research findings saying that “They make it clear that, for many women, the brutal demands of ambitious careers, the asymmetries of male-female relationships, and the difficulties of bearing children late in life conspire to crowd out the possibility of having children.
“I find it really interesting that the author presents the idea that the more successful a man is, the more likely he is to find a good spouse and become a father. Yet it is the exact opposite for women. Women also seem to be under a much more intense time crunch whereas men have many options when it comes to the timeline and order of events for their lives.

My question is what is your perspective on this? Is it a purely lose-lose situation for women? Or do we get more options because we may choose to go to work or to stay home? Are men the ones with the short end of the stick because it is not as acceptable for them to not pursue a career?

I encourage you to read through this article. It sparked some hard questions for me.

https://hbr.org/2002/04/executive-women-and-the-myth-of-having-it-all

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Responses

  1. Women deserve to be able to have a family and a career just like men and not be forced to choose between quitting their job or not having children. This issue will continually be a lose-lose situation unless changes in society and governmental policies are made to support paid maternity leave. I think for some women the choice to stay home is not necessarily a personal choice, but a choice they were forced to make because they could not continue to work and take care of a young child. Companies should work with women to allow changes in scheduling or extended leave with job security, so women can still have a career and be a good mother. The question of whether to stay home or continue to work should be extended to men because they should be able to stay at home instead of working to take care of a child without society ostracizing them.

  2. I agree that is it a lose-lose situation for women who want to pursue careers and have family. Not only are women not expected to succeed at or pursue careers, but they are often snubbed by society including men and women if choosing “career over family”. Then if a woman has a family, takes time off, but choosing to go back to the career she has spent years to build up, she is not only again scorned by society but she often returns to a hostile workforce that is try to force her resignation. Then if a woman stays at home to raise kids, people think she is being anti-feminist or wasting potential. Women should have the right to choose to stay at home or go to work while they have a family but they should not be force to or belittled for doing either one. I think we, as a developed country, need to take a hard look at our maternity leave policies.

  3. When I assess the situation of whether people can “have it all” I don’t see it as a gender question, but a people question. I think the answer is the same whether you are a man or a woman, yes you can have it all, but you can’t have it all be perfect. I believe that men and women both struggle with the issue of wanting perfectly have it all, and if we don’t we feel unfulfilled or inadequate. I believe this is largely because as a society we think that everyone else has it all perfectly and we are just not good enough. Instead the great reality is that no one has it all perfectly. If we understand this and we do not hold ourselves to an unobtainable level of perfection suddenly we can be at peace with ourselves. If we fail to realize that this idea of having it all by which we mean having it all perfectly is not possible, then we are setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment. I understand where some may say that women have more of a raw deal of sorts, as they have the pressure of making the choice between a career and family. I would argue men have the same amount of pressure put on them, but it is internal rather than societal, as society does push men to having a career more than being at home. I know many men who struggle with the idea of failing at being both a successful worker and a successful family man. Men largely feel an internal pressure to have it all perfectly by having a leadership position at work and being spot on all the time as a husband and father. In no way am I trying to discount the pressure women feel, but it is important to realize that it is not just women who feel like they can’t have it all. I think that if we as individuals accept that we can’t have everything perfect, and that at times are careers might take a back burner or sometimes we might not be able to spend the time we want to spend with our families then we can learn to not feel like we are failing, but instead understand we are being successful and doing good. Really we are being human.

  4. While I think gender is an important factor to consider in this debate, I don’t think that it solely works alone when it comes to trying to balance a career and family life. However I do agree that women do tend to have to make the decisions about having to choose between having a family or a career more often than men. Another factor that dictates career/ family life decisions is the couple’s socioeconomic status. Couples who can afford to put their children in daycare (and choose to do so) have more flexibility in continuing careers that existed before children came into the picture. On the other hand, if a couple cannot afford daycare or some sort of sitter, there has to be a decision made of who stays home to take care of the children while the other parent continues to provide for the family. Women are often subjected to decision-making about continuing a career after having a child because we have seen this reinforced by media, but also through the actions of past generations of wives and mothers. While I don’t think that women should ever feel subjected to have to give up a thriving career to solely support a family, I do think that if women are freely choosing to do so they absolutely have the right to do this as well.

  5. I agree that this is a particularly hard situation for women specifically because childbearing is not something that we can control. While is must be hard for men to attempt to “have it all” they do not have the same time, biological, and professional restrictions that women face in the workforce. This article hit home for me in the sense that I know that I want both a career and a family when I am older, however, I did not agree with one of the author’s tips that said “choose a more flexible career.” I believe this to be counterproductive because this discourages women from pursuing those very jobs that have been so hard for women to get into( i.e. medicine, law, the corporate world). A woman should not be discouraged from any field because she knows that she wants so have a child. This being said, I believe that it is a type of lose-lose situation for both men and women, as Josh stated earlier. It is hard on both genders to have to decide between work and family. It would be beneficial for the workforce in general to make some form of maternity and/or paternity leave that would allow more flexibility for people to have more of what life can offer.

  6. I’ve always believed that women have a lot more work and responsibility on their hands when it comes to balancing life and work. Women are expected to take on a disproportionately large amount of childcare and housework, while maintaining a full-time job as well. When we combine that amount of work with the actual act of childbirth and the recovery period that follows, it’s pretty obvious that women get the short end of the stick generally. However, I do believe that there is a biological aspect to it, causing women to be more inclined to focus on motherhood. Nevertheless, it is definitely possible to have the best of both worlds as a woman. My own mom, for example, is a doctor who didn’t have my brother and me until she was 37 and 40, and still managed to maintain her career and be a mother to two healthy children. Perhaps this is not usual because of the complications that come with late-age pregnancy, but it is definitely possible. I think that working women just need to understand the sacrifices that may need to be made to maintain a working lifestyle and motherhood at the same time. It’s not easy, but it can be done.

  7. As a man, the culture I’ve been raised in makes me feel like I must have a career. In short we have created this everyone loses culture, men are forced into a path they done want, and if they choose to be the stay at home the can expect some ridicule. And women goes into the workforce shes seen as different with her only alternative being to be the stay at home mom. I think its possible that the right couple can overcome these challenges to create that type of household, but both will have to be very strong in order for that to happen.

  8. I don’t agree that women face a “lose-lose” situation when choosing between their personal and professional aspirations. Women have to prioritize their lives more thoroughly than men and make decisions regarding family and children much earlier than their male counterparts. They have to consider that traditional gender roles demand that women play an involved and intimate part in the lives of their children, leading many women to stay home with their families. This is often troublesome for women who have to give up professional aspirations in order to comply with societal expectations. The same social mores stipulate that men must work outside of the home, thus leading both genders to have difficulty in balancing domestic and professional aspirations.
    I’m not sure that the aforementioned phenomenon should be described as a “lose-lose” situation for women or men. Women don’t have the same stigma as a man would have ascribed to them if they choose to stay home, but women face unique difficulties in career advancement than their male counterparts when or if they choose to have children. Fathers who choose to stay home with their families are often looked at as less manly than their working counterparts, and dads who choose to continue to work are often more successful than their single coworkers. I don’t think that any part of child rearing should be constructed as a “lose-lose” situation. It is always a choice, and individuals have to choose the path that will lead them to accomplish their own views of success. If a mom is determined to maintain her career, she can hire a nanny or send her child to boarding school. Similarly, some men may chooses to stay at home to ensure that they have time with their children. Neither gender has faces easy decisions in balancing professional and domestic life. Both men and women face difficulties unique to their sex, and to some degree, both are disenfranchised by society.

  9. I don’t think anyone can have it all. It’s just a reality of life. Everyone must make compromises and sacrifices to get what they want. There is a triangle of life aspects and you must take each day to pick which side is a priority. The way to decide whether or not to have kids comes when you find a job. Ask them what their policies are on maternity leave. If you have the ambition to be in politics (as most of our readings state), you should be prepared to not have time for your family or children. Women know this going in to the workforce and therefore have a choice from the very beginning on how to handle motherhood and their career. I do agree that many businesses need to step it up and help women re-enter the workforce. One article I read mentioned how one boss said they would hire the young women fresh from school rather than the older lady who is coming back from maternity leave. Don’t they realize that young women is going to want kids too and they will go through this ordeal over again? As for the men, there is a societal stigma stating that they have to bring home the bacon and evolutionarily that’s what women look for in a man, support and protection (nowadays in the form of money and salary). That is a good point to make though, that maybe men can’t have it all also. It makes you wonder if it’s a gender problem or a societal problem that everyone needs to join in and fix.

  10. I’ve thought a lot about this too as I’ve seen it circle around my family without realizing until recently. It’s unsettling knowing that men are known to be the providers and still be a good father while if the roles were reversed, the sentence would feel much more foreign to society, and that’s an outright shame. I’m not sure if it has something to do with gender stereotypes with women literally carrying the child until birth, that they’re expected to be that parent who takes more time at home rather than work, but I think gender shouldn’t be apart of that decision. I know because of our culture, it feels almost impossible for women to be able to ‘have it all’ but why can’t society change their mindset instead of women changing their goals? I feel like it’s a media and culture induced mindset that women can’t be the great mother and take those promotions at work, when in reality if the perspectives shifted to make room for a woman to do that, it would definitely be possible. I don’t believe we can have it all, in all extremes, all the time, but with balance and good practice, women should have more of the availability to have it all.
    In films and television, it’s frustrating to see men being the providers, coming home from work to a home-cooked meal because I believe it insinuates this perception of men and women in family dynamics that today’s reality shouldn’t have to be for the majority.
    For me personally, I’ve never really dreamt of having the perfect wedding or having kids, but I once saw a couple in NYC getting on the elevator together, both with suits and suitcases with them and I thought to myself how amazing it was just to see two genders, even if just superficial appearance, have the same energy and confidence among the two as equals. I hope one day I can have that, and without society’s judgements clouding me.

  11. I personally think everyone should just do as they please. I understand that as a woman who wants a career it can be hard to make a decision on whether or not it is the right decision to hve a child. But I also think it really depends on where your priorities lie. If you are a woman with a career, and that is the main priority, then I would say just stay in your career. But if the career really isn’t fulfilling you and you wish to have a child, I would go and have a child. Then once they each school, you can delve back into having a career and do both, or just stay at home if that is truly wht works. I feel the same thing about men. While mean are expected to have a career, if they have a career wife and want to stay home, why shouldn’t they? I think it is really sad that society and the media feel the need to put shackles on people to only allow them to do certain things and have it be socially acceptable. My dad worked and my mo stayed home, but once we were old enough, my mom had part time jobs and now just does whatever she wants. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I hope one day this issue can be remedied so that people can live their lives the way they choose without fear of judgement.

  12. I am so fascinated by the idea of having it all. Especially at this time in my life because right now I am trying to have it all and I’m not even thinking about having a family or anything. It seems almost impossible to have it all, and I honestly think it is. Because women have to take care of the first 9 months (at least) and are expected to be there for much longer until children are no longer breast feeding. But honestly, it’s not even acknowledged how men also have to deal with it. It seems easier for them, but uber successful are never home and don’t really get to be a parent, and that isn’t really seen because women are the ones who are expected to stay home. I think women do the option, but each option comes with its repercussions, therefore it really is a lose-lose situation and right now there is really no way around it.


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